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Chapter 1 Part 3: School and Music

A black and white photograph of a charming white two-storey schoolhouse is clipped to the blank page of a small notebook. An Olympus OMD camera is to the right. A sprig of baby's breath is at the top left.  The backdrop is grey farmhouse floorboards.

Welcome and hello!

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The title says it all about today’s content. And the photograph above is an undated one of the Scotland schoolhouse. Such a pretty building!

Charlie attended Public School in Scotland. “I walked to school with Elaine Laird who lived in the first house east of us.”  Miss Holloway was his primary teacher.  When she wanted figures added for reports, the pupils were to add them, and whoever could add up the marks the fastest got out of school first.  This was Charlie every time!  He was always good in math but not so good in spelling. Mr. Makins was the principal and Charlie remembered that he had a grand piano in his classroom.  About twice a year, for assemblies, the boys would lug the piano upstairs to the auditorium for the program and then back down again afterwards.  In September of 1935 as Charlie was entering Continuation School in Scotland, he came down with bronchitis and spent three weeks in bed. While at Continuation School, he was involved in the sports Field Day when four schools (Scotland, Mount Pleasant, St. George and Lynden) came together for sports competitions. During the 1940 school term, Charlie drove to Brantford Collegiate Institute (B.C.I.) for a Grade 13 Business Course. He took Bob Macaulay from Mount Pleasant and others along with him.  While there he received a Certificate of Proficiency in Filing with a mark of 86.

Music played a significant role in Charlie’s life.  At about eight years old, Charlie began taking violin lessons from Mrs. Gary Malcolm, who lived just east of the United Church.  In February 1932, he received Honours on his Introductory Examination in violin from the Toronto Conservatory  of Music. He played for the Sunday School for many years.  “I remember playing violin for Sunday School with Mary Malcolm on the piano and sometimes Don Eddy on cello.”  He also played in a string group with Don Eddy and the Yallup boys, called Wetmore’s Orchestra, and on October 10, 1936 he played in the orchestra at Burford Fair. 

At that time, when the young people of the village entered high school, they were invited to join the church choir.  But from an early age, Charlie remembered sitting in the choir loft with his parents at church.  His grandfather Samuel had led the choir, and now his parents were choir leaders.  At first he sang soprano, then when his voice matured he became a baritone. When he got his driver’s licence at 16, Charlie began driving himself to singing lessons with Mr. Joseph Blow, organist at Central Presbyterian Church in Brantford. Also, while at B.C.I., he sang in the Glee Club and was lead violinist in the orchestra.

There will be more about school and a lot more about music later in Charlie’s life too! But who else remembers the name of their first schoolteacher, or their first music teacher?

Til next time,